Minister: Program To Help Unemployed Women

September 13, 2013

The Community Driven Development programme [CDD] will focus on developing a group of women who are unemployed or underemployed to become self-sufficient and off financial assistance, Minister Wayne Scott said today [Sept 13] in the House of Assembly.

The Minister said that the Department of Human Affairs embarked on this CDD programme, in an effort to aid in a much needed social recovery in a time that sees over 2300 persons currently receiving financial assistance; a number that has never before been experienced.

Minister Scott said, “The objective of the current CDD initiative is to establish a day care facility where this same group of women would be instrumental in helping to undertake some of the work required in order to get the centre operational and where they will train and work in the various aspects of the facility including child day care, administration, book-keeping, maintenance, food preparation and gardening. The intention is also for the participants to enroll their own children in the facility thereby saving government the funding now needed to provide a child day care allowance to those families.”

The Minister said is also anticipated that “skilled persons such as carpenters, electricians and plumbers who are unable to find work or those who are employed on the hustle truck or are required to do community service for financial assistance benefits, could be involved in the renovations of a building for the facility.

“The vision is for a multipurpose facility that can also be used for other revenue generating uses such as evening classes and babysitting or elder care. These are all ideas which are emanating from the participants of the CDD project whilst in the process of preparing their business plan for the day care.”

Minister Scott’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker and Honourable members of the House, I rise today to inform you about a new and exciting initiative within my Ministry called the Community Driven Development programme or “CDD” – that the Department of Human Affairs in conjunction with and under the auspices of the Bermuda Women’s Council have launched.

Mr. Speaker, Bermuda is currently in the midst of an unprecedented economic crisis. Unemployment is at an all time high with the 2012 Labour Survey indicating an 8% unemployment rate.

In 2012, the Department of Financial Assistance, also within my Ministry, reached the $10 million per quarter mark, for financial assistance to our people in need.other departments within my Ministry are also stretched to their limits in an effort to save our children and families.

With over 2300 persons currently receiving financial assistance; a number that has never before been experienced, the Department of Human Affairs (DHA) embarked on this CDD programme, in an effort to aid in a much needed social recovery.

Mr. Speaker, CDD is an approach that gives control over planning, decisions and resources for projects to community groups. CDD projects operate on the principles of local empowerment, participatory governance and enhanced local capacity.

CDD relies on civic engagement, i.e. where ordinary citizens and/or civil society organizations participate directly or indirectly in the project. CDD focuses on strengthening skills, competencies and abilities of people in order that they transition from needing assistance to being self-sufficient. This is sometimes described as “teaching someone how to fish instead of giving them a fish”.

Mr. Speaker, the initiative focuses on developing a group of women who are unemployed or underemployed to become self-sufficient and off financial assistance. Why only women? That question has been asked in many quarters. The simple answer is that the project began under the auspices of the Bermuda Women’s Council and is being administered by the Department of Human Affairs under its “gender remit”. The first meeting with the women in this CDD programme was scheduled to commemorate international women’s day. Indeed, this CDD programme for women is the “pilot” programme.

Mr. Speaker, it is anticipated that a CDD programme specifically designed for men will also be implemented. This programme will be separate and distinct because the requirements to “break down” the barriers for men to engage, open up, and retool are different from what women require. The department has had to “dig deep” and under many layers of “stuff” into the root causes of the issues which have inhibited the women in the programme from getting ahead in life. A similar process will need to be designed for a men’s programme as well.

Mr. Speaker, the objective of the current CDD initiative is to establish a day care facility where this same group of women would be instrumental in helping to undertake some of the work required in order to get the centre operational and where they will train and work in the various aspects of the facility including child day care, administration, book-keeping, maintenance, food preparation and gardening. The intention is also for the participants to enroll their own children in the facility thereby saving government the funding now needed to provide a child day care allowance to those families.

Mr. Speaker, most importantly, the proposed day care facility will be run by fully trained and qualified professionals and the intention is that it will be a training ground for persons wishing to get involved in every aspect of a day care facility.

There will also be other entrepreneurial opportunities which could be derived from the day care project such as transportation for the students, preparation of meals for parents to take home with them when they collect their children, and evening and weekend babysitting.

It is also anticipated, that skilled persons such as carpenters, electricians and plumbers who are unable to find work or those who are employed on the hustle truck or are required to do community service for financial assistance benefits, could be involved in the renovations of a building for the facility.

The vision is for a multipurpose facility that can also be used for other revenue generating uses such as evening classes and babysitting or elder care. These are all ideas which are emanating from the participants of the CDD project whilst in the process of preparing their business plan for the day care.

Mr. Speaker, I want now to tell you a little of what has gone on since the inception of CDD about six months ago. The CDD initiative began on 22nd March 2013 with an event held at Dellwood Middle School. The Department of Human Affairs and the Bermuda Women’s Council, with the full support and assistance of the Department of Financial Assistance, identified and contacted a number of women who receive financial assistance and child day care allowance to invite them to the event. The purpose of the event was to inform the women about the CDD project and to ascertain their interest in participating. Of the eighty four (84) women who attended, approximately forty (40) indicated an interest in joining.

Mr. Speaker, those interested women were contacted and asked to attend a number of sessions in may so that the Department of Human Affairs staff could begin an occupational and educational assessment as well as determine whether there was a serious commitment to the project. Approximately thirty (30) women attended these sessions.

During these sessions the Department of Human Affairs staff recognized that there were differing skill and ability levels and gaps in education and experience. The assessments also indicated that training would be required in the areas of basic life skills, business skills, deportment, self-esteem, empowerment etc. Counseling in the areas of anger and relationship management was also identified as being needed and further education in the area of attaining the GED, early childhood education, and nursing assistance would also be necessary.

Mr. Speaker, an agreement was prepared setting out the roles and responsibilities of both the participants and the Department of Human Affairs staff. Twenty (20) participants signed the agreement and the project formally launched on 8th July 2013.

A four-pronged approach is being used to increase skill levels, abilities and competencies of participants through partnering with businesses, community organizations and individuals via a) workshops and seminars b) field trips c)certificate courses and d) volunteer opportunities. Fifteen (15) hours of workshops, field trips and, most recently, GED school hours are provided every week in line with the requirement in the 2013 amendments to the financial assistance regulations that able-bodied persons receiving financial assistance must complete fifteen hours a week of community service. Agreement was sought and received from the department of financial assistance to lower the required job search forms from 20 to 5 for the participants.

Mr. Speaker, the intention is for the volunteer prong to commence in the fall and staff, together with the Bermuda Women’s Council, are now working on securing volunteer opportunities and “work shadowing” prospects for the participants.

Mr. Speaker, a two week rotating cycle of classes was designed with one week focusing on building the business plan for the day care facility followed by a week of workshops which concentrate on such topics as business etiquette, resume writing, effective communication, interviewing skills, customer service training, deportment, empowerment, nutrition, food substitutes, healthy eating for kids, preparation of quick and easy meals on a budget, managing finances, anger management and relationship building, transforming your voices and much more.

Mr. Speaker, during business planning sessions participants review the various pieces of legislation regulating the establishment and operation of a day care facility, research the various day care curriculums, discuss what the facility will look like and what it will offer in terms of programmes, including a strength, weakness, opportunity and threat (SWOT) analysis. The participants visited the happy valley child day care facility to gather information and practical exposure and they have also joined the Bermuda library in order to conduct further research.

Mr. Speaker, this CDD project has received the endorsement of the ACE Women’s Forum-Bermuda as a major partner in this initiative. They have graciously provided the use of space and facilities at ace’s learning center on Wednesdays and Thursdays each week and members of the ace women’s forum-Bermuda will conduct a series of workshops focusing on strategic planning, business plan writing, marketing, branding, communications and it skills and host a “dress for success” event over the next few months.

Mr. Speaker, recently the participants made their first quarterly presentation at the ace building to a number of stakeholders. I attended the event,which was absolutely awesome and inspiring. The success of that event made me renew my commitment to champion this programme in any way that I can.

It was obvious that the participants have experienced personal and professional growth along with an increase in confidence. The audience heard words such as ‘change that will last’, ‘increase in self-esteem’, ‘trust and faith in people’, ‘positive energy’ and ‘a decrease in behavioral conflicts’.

Mr. Speaker, currently two(2) participants have commenced a professional and career education (pace) course at Bermuda college and (ten) 10 participants have embarked on their ged at care learning centre. Others will continue workshops in administration, bookkeeping and other topics provided by the facilitators.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Human Affairs and the Bermuda Women’s Council recognize that not all of the participants in the CDD programme will benefit in the same way. Some persons will move through the programme and gain employment outside of the proposed day care initiative, others will move through the programme and be gainfully employed at the day care and still others may not gain employment right away but they will have the satisfaction of knowing that they have improved their circumstances for the better and increased their knowledge, skills, employability and hope for the future.

Mr. Speaker, it is anticipated that there will be other projects and initiatives under the CDD banner being unveiled in the near future. These too will be aimed at creating employment opportunities for underemployed and unemployed men and women. The objective is for the participants of the community driven development programme who have completed the programme to “feed into” and be employed in these projects.

Mr. Speaker, this CDD initiative is a major plank in the ministry’s vision to “strengthen the social fabric of our community” by undertaking social recovery. In order to ensure its success the department is working with other internal and external stakeholders many of whom are colleagues within the ministry.

These include the ACE Women’s Forum-Bermuda, the Department of Financial Assistance, the Bermuda Housing Corporation, the Department of Child and Family services, community education and development programme, care learning centre, Bermuda College, the business and professional women’s association, the centre against abuse, bj ministries, the Bermuda women’s council and the department of workforce development.i take this opportunity to thank them all for their efforts and contributions. The department will soon be reaching out to other community partners.

Mr. Speaker, this ‘is not business as usual’ –this is a different way of doing business. In these economic times we must be creative and think ‘outside the box’ in order to address the many facets of the problem. There is a mother and daughter team in this CDD programme and two sisters as well who have expressed their desire to break the generational cycle of dependence in their families.

So what these mothers, grandmothers, sisters and daughters take from this programme to their individual homes will not only have a positive effect on the economy but also a greater effect on our men, boys and girls and hopefully future generations of our people. This is the key to Bermuda’s social recovery.

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Comments (13)

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  1. Rhonda Neil says:

    Is this any different, from the nail technician,chef program, or the city guilds hairdressing or childcare program, all available at the college… as well as the many trade programs offered… why create something new…opposes to encouraging people to take advantage of what is already available… including the overseas programs…

    Silly me this is about optic, not change…

    • Hmmm says:

      Those all were for luxury services delivery….looks like this new one is for necessary services delivery. i.e. Demand exists !

  2. fedup Nana says:

    Mr. Scott, you are reaching out to those who are currently on FA, but for some no fault of their own.. Tell me what advise do you have for women mid 50 now made redundant … no fault of their own… homeowner… now underemployed… trying to hold on their homes… nothing elaborate…. just a house… paid taxes via previous employment…. not looking for any handouts… savings depleting slowly… due the economic decline.

    Tell me Mr. Scott what do you have to say to this “group” just trying to live.

  3. Hmmm says:

    How about take out a Home Equity Loan and start a business ?
    In your 50′s therefore must have a skill set and knowledge to apply to it.

  4. Robert says:

    You are the banks problem,

  5. frustrated says:

    Who’s to say the people on f.a haven’t been made redundant or they homeless or house burned down. In ya 50′s and made redundant, ok so you think you on some special list? Lol jobless is jobless. Insensitive bermudains.

    How bout we talk bout the oba’s promises of jobs once they got in power or how the crime rate gonna stop. I bet you won’t talk bout that. O right, maybe cause that’s were your vote was placed #smh grow up bermuda

    Times are hard job or not we all struggling

  6. Pastor Syl says:

    This seems to me to be a very good idea, a way for people to give themselves a hand up, become more self sufficient,and learn some marketable skills in the bargain. It could work on multiple levels, as has been done elsewhere. A building gets restored, men and women learn something about running a care giving business, while being able to take care of their own children, which at today’s prices, takes a fair chunk out of Inouye pockets, since we, the tax payer, pay for child care when folks are on financial assistance. Working and or volunteering with a purpose that benefits self as well as the community, restores pride, self-respect, and a sense of self worth, self esteem and satisfaction that learning to be a nail technician or similar can never provide… which is not to degrade the value of learning a marketable skill, but this idea his all the spots. So sad that some will find ways to decry it rather than see the potential value.

  7. Pastor Syl says:

    Apologies for the typos. Auto correcting phone has a mind of its own

  8. Pastor Syl says:

    In addition, it occurs to me, to the over-50 unemployed lady, I am sure you have a skill set out two that could be very helpful in this initiative. Perhaps there could be some kind of stipend for people who can train, instruct or guide the men and women who are creating this care-giving house/business. Maybe there could be branches of this initiative in each parish. There are certainly enough abandoned houses in each parish thst could benefit from refurbishment. Oh, I can see all kinds of possibilities with this idea. Lets make it WORK!